Friday, January 22, 2016

On our way to Pisac

We got to the airport around 10:30 or 11 and were very happy to see lots of Quakers waiting for the bus to Pisac.

We hung out for a little while until a small van showed up. There were quite a few of us and I asked how many were going to fit in this van. Someone said 11 people. 11 people! I couldn't figure out where all the seats were for these people. But then it was finally time to go. I climbed into the back with Susan and Johnson from Ghana. Then they folded a seat down and three more people climbed in, another seat folded down and more people climbed in. Yep, 11 people!

Lots of Quakers in a van!

We sat in the van for a little, while they loaded all of our luggage on top. I was a little worried about the weight of all that luggage and all of us people on the poor tires! Soon we were off, winding our way through the streets of Cusco. We climbed higher and higher until it was a little scary to look down. There weren't really many guardrails to keep us from plunging off the side of the mountain. We got to a certain height and then we drove along pretty high up along the sides of mountains.  It was beautiful of course!  After a while we started seeing signs of a village and wondered if this was Pisac. Nope. Ooh, maybe this next one? Nope. Finally we started winding our way down the mountain and there was a large sign welcoming us to Pisac. 

View out the van window

starting the drive down towards Pisac
We crossed a bridge over a rather muddy brown river and right into town.  Through town and out the other side and the van stopped at the Royal Inca Hotel. 

The hotel has extensive grounds of 1, 2, and 3 story buildings painted in yellow and red. There are flowers and plants everywhere. There are cobblestone paths everywhere, little hidden garden areas. Everything is so lush and green. And then you look up and we are surrounded on all sides by these stunning mountains. It's really stunning. (Did I say that already?)

courtyard area at Royal Inca Hotel

mountains looming over the Plenary room
Swimming pool area! Very large (this is the smaller pool - the olympic-sized one is over on the right). 

Looking across the pond to the dining hall. Apparently the hotel raises trout in this pond sometimes, which they serve in the restaurant. 
The afternoon was taken up with registering and getting myself set up in my room. I had been told I'd be in Tambo de Gozo, a sort of camp setting 15 minutes away. But my housing was changed to one of the "bungalows." My bungalow is right next to the dining hall so that's nice.  It's basically a large cabin with bunkbeds that sleep 10 people and a room with showers, toilets, and a sink. The top bunk, where I ended up, is very high up. There aren't any ladders. I get up on a barstool and use the rafters to help pull me up. The mattress is nice and firm and there are plenty of blankets, including the ubiquitous alpaca blanket.  Unfortunately, I think my pillow is made out of packing peanuts and chunks of alpaca wool. Though it redefines the idea of a lumpy pillow, it's actually not too bad. 

I had my orientation meeting with the Pastoral Care group. This group maintains a safe space during the conference for anyone who needs space, wants to talk or pray with someone, or just wants a cup of tea and some biscuits (that's cookies to you non-commonwealth folks).

Lunch had been a meat-heavy dish. Dinner was soup and bread. This will be the plan for the conference, big meal in the afternoon, light meal at night. One interesting thing: the plan was that all of our meals would be buffet so that people could come and go during meal times. However, many of our meals have  been sit down where we are served by a large group of waiters. I guess the owner of the hotel promised waiter jobs to a lot of people. It has made things a bit slow, but I think it's nice that our conference has meant jobs for local people. And I heard that the owner is very happy we are here. It's a very prestigious thing for him. He can now say that his hotel has hosted an international conference. 

The evening program was a big celebration and welcoming, including welcoming speeches from the local mayor and governor.

And then it was off to bed after a long day!  (And as some of you know, this was followed by a long night of sleeplessness due to snoring! )

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